My wife has a theory about why Freemasons cover their bumpers with fraternal emblems. She believes they would decorate their garages, their yards, or maybe their mailboxes with those fraternal emblems—if they were ever home.
There are many shows on television these days about Freemasons—you’ll see them on History Channel, History International, and Discovery Channel. Those shows always seem to focus on what goes on within the walls of Masonic Lodges, with varying degrees of accuracy. But Masonry is much more about what we do outside the lodge than inside, and that’s a story you seldom ever hear.
The work that Masons do on a national scale is well known—there are the Shriners Hospitals, the Knights Templar Eye Foundation, the Scottish Rite Learning Centers for Dyslexic Children, and many more. About a million dollars a day is raised to support those charitable causes, but volunteers do much of the work. I guarantee you that right now, somewhere in America, a Shriner is transporting a child back and forth from a Shriners Hospital somewhere for treatment.
But that’s only part of the story. Most local lodges have their own projects going on too—everything from buying uniforms for the Little League team, to raising money for a community improvement project. Some lodges give scholarships to exceptional graduates at their local high schools. Some help out the Cub Scouts and Girl Scouts. Some help support local Veterans groups. The list of causes these little local lodges support is as varied as it is endless.
I’ll give you a little snapshot of what Masons were doing in my corner of the world today.
This morning, my lodge sponsored a community blood drive with the local blood bank, which we do about four times a year. My mother gave her pint this morning. She was not a regular donor until she learned about our regular blood drives at the lodge--a pint at a time, she's heading into the gallon donor range. One of our regulars has given six gallons, and I'm sure he doesn't hold the record by any means.
Two of our members left the blood drive event early to help with an Illinois CHIP program sponsored by a couple other local lodges. The Illinois CHIP is a child identification program—we prepare kits for parents, free of charge, that include fingerprints, DNA, photos, and a short video clip of their child in the event of an emergency. And another of our members was with the York Rite in another local lodge, helping with a degree day, where they welcomed eight new members into the Royal Arch Chapter.
So when you see that little square and compass on the bumper of a car during your daily travels, give them a little honk and wave. There’s a good chance he’s going to, or coming from something few people will celebrate, but somebody, somewhere will no doubt appreciate.
Todd E. Creason is an author and novelist whose work includes the award-winning non-fiction historical series Famous American Freemasons and the novels One Last Shot (2011) and A Shot After Midnight (2012). He's currently working on the third novel expected to be released in 2014. All of Todd E. Creason's books are sold at major online booksellers like Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble and are available for both Nook and Kindle.